By Jeremy Neren, CEO of GrocerKey
My debut in entrepreneurship was like most, an operation run out of an apartment (illegally). In 2006, I started Madtown Munchies – an on-demand grocery delivery service in Madison, WI for college students. I had $1,500 in savings, and zero clue what I was doing. This forced me to learn everything from the ground up. I’m proud of my humble beginnings, and frankly I owe my success to getting started that way.
Madtown Munchies went on to achieve a lot, delivering over 120,000 orders in a roughly 9-year period. Through this experience, I became an expert in eCommerce grocery technology and operations. In 2014, after spending time working alongside a very talented technical partner (Daniel Glucksman), I decided to take what I had learned and build a larger company.
In late 2014, I founded GrocerKey, with the goal of leveraging my experience to help brick and mortar grocery retailers become digital leaders. The idea was that we could provide robust technology, differentiated from our competitors by having had success managing our own operation – leading us to have a much deeper knowledge base. We were fortunate to go through the gener8tor accelerator program, where we raised our first investment round and solidified a partnership with our first major retail partner, Woodman’s. Woodman’s not only licensed our comprehensive technology, they also made a significant investment in GrocerKey, and contracted us to provide all strategy and day-to-day management of ShopWoodmans.com, their eCommerce business.
The last three years have been an absolute whirlwind, we’ve gone on to raise roughly $3.5M and sign a dozen retailers throughout the US to license agreements for our omni-commerce software. We’ve been able to leverage our experience managing ShopWoodmans.com to build a far more robust product, and uniquely position ourselves in the market as a technology company with deep operational expertise.
With Amazon buying Whole Foods, for the first time in my professional career, it appears that eCommerce grocery has been brought into the spotlight. It feels like all the hard work I’ve put into the last 12 years have prepared me (and GrocerKey) for this moment. I believe the industry is still only scratching the surface of what’s possible. Over the next several years, we will see radical progress, with nearly all US grocery retailers adopting eCommerce and focusing a lot more attention on their overall digital strategy. I’m extremely excited about what lies ahead!